Picks and Pans Review: Human

updated 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

Rod Stewart (Atlantic)

Rod may have taken the title of his last CD, 1998's When We Were the New Boys, a tad too literally, even covering the Oasis ode to youthful excess "Cigarettes & Alcohol." Now 56 and marking the 30th anniversary of his first No. 1 hit, "Maggie Mae," the onetime cock of the rock walk isn't quite ready for assisted living. But he has wisely curtailed the rusting rooster act in favor of the wistful but gritty balladry that made "Maggie" ageless. Here Rod hearkens back to the rasping, emotion-packed crooning style of the Motown, R&B and soul stars of the '60s that he has long emulated. Separating himself from the soundalike R&B virtuosos who rule the pop charts with lyrically challenged tunes, Rod delivers a satchel full of imagery-rich, slow-dance gems like "Charlie Parker Loves Me," Curtis Mayfield's gorgeous "It Was Love That We Needed" and Macy Gray's "Smitten," a yearning love song on which he offers a nice mimic of Gray's own sandpapery lilt.

Bottom Line: He wears the years well

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